Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Weather Is Beautiful And Other Things

That little nucleus of food heaven that I mentioned yesterday opened this morning after a Monday rest.

The Boulangerie in that complex has flaky-crunchy croissants. That's two that are and two that haven't been. It is interesting to note that those two that are such are down at this end of St Germain instead of at its naval. Of course one of the two that weren't flaky-crunchy was from Paul, the Bordeaux based bread chain interloper that displaced the local super market back in 2000 or so. The reason I even know (because if I know I must buy things there) is that long ago I ceased resisting that change and found Paul to be a really good boulangerie. They've just let their croissants go downhill a little bit; their baguettes are great, or at least really good. Of course I'm from Seattle where the only place I know to get a decent baguette or croissant is in Columbia City; and they cost a lot; and the place is not easy to get to; and they run out of stuff a lot. So being a block away from a Paul is like heaven to me.

The fromager has really good fromage blanc, and I finally learned that the kind I like is called "fermier" which is smooth and creamy as opposed to the other kind whose name I still don't know that is somewhat like cottage cheese. And the Roquefort is among the best I, in my limited experience, have had.

And I finally got a super market priced bottle of calvados at FranPrix.

But back to the weather.

The day I got here it looked just like Paris weather – medium high clouds blowing through at a fairly high rate of speed such that there were sun breaks mixed with intermittent precipitation ranging from mist to downpour. But all of it was fleeting and intermittent.

So that's how it looked. That isn't the way it felt. Instead of that chill wind that normally accompanies the clouds and the intermittent changeability there was a humid warm tone to the air. And several days later, when the sun finally came back in earnest, it was accompanied by heat and humidity. I guess that, at least in the summer, is typical; it's just that I have never experienced it. In the twenty or so times that I have been here I can only remember two when I wasn't constantly cold. (One of those included the summer solstice; Mysti and I spent a good portion of that night out in a crowd of tens of thousands in Boulevard St Germain listening to rock bands – there was one every couple hundred feet or so – and enjoying the fact that, for once, it wasn't cold in Paris. I also learned that, based on the number of times different bands played it, "Brown Sugar" was the favorite song.)

On the other hand, I spent the entire month of August 2006 shivering in the city. Not only was it pretty much deserted with everybody at the beach for a month, it was cold. If I hadn't brought my blazer I would have frozen to death. It was hard to believe that the same month a year or two earlier had produced thousands of heat related deaths, mostly to old people who had been left by their children who were at the beach. But August 2006 was cold. I was having a coffee one morning when I glanced at the front page of Le Monde that the guy next to me was reading. Ou est l'été?

Ou est indeed. So the presence of warmth and humidity in early October just hasn't seemed right.

But Sunday it all changed. The weather couldn't have been more brilliantly beautiful with clear blue skies and no clouds at all, anytime during the day. Sunday was the day I moved from St Germain to Isle de Cité. I had originally planned to get a taxi. But in a late breaking fit of economizing I decided that I could roll the roller bags, mount the satchel as it was intended to be mounted on one of the roller bags so it became one with that bag and became itself an adjunct roller bag, hoist the backpack on my back and put the kitchen stuff in my French market basket. It would take two or three trips, and I decided that if I started about sunrise – 0800 or so – I could avoid the hoards that throng the route I would need to traverse, which includes the forecourt of Notre Dame. I had walked the route several times to choose the best route for roller bags.

I debated with myself – I always win – whether or not to wear a coat. After all it was warm and all a coat would do would be to cause me to sweat. But two of the coats had no home in the luggage; and the overcoat is so big and heavy that if it were put in the market bag that is about all the market bag would hold, and that would entail the addition of a fourth trip; and a fourth trip would put itself dangerously close to the onslaught of the hoard. So I decided to wear one of the coats, not for warmth, but to transport it. I could leave it once the trip to the new apartment had been completed and then wear coat two on trip two, leave it, and wear coat three on the third and final leg of the move.

About a quarter of the way I noticed the change in the form of a familiar freshening of the air – chilling one might call it – that I know to be a Paris trademark. The weather had turned and autumn had arrived and all was beautiful and right with the world. And the four flights that I had to drag the bags to get to my apartment had put such a sweat on me that any idea of walking back coatless through the freshening Paris Autumn became quickly a thing of the past.

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